South Africa's cash-strapped power utility Eskom imposes its biggest power cut this year, hitting small businesses in Africa's most advanced economy. Hayley Platt reports.
Power cuts in South Africa have become a fact of life. Electricity is in high demand but short in supply. The country's main utility firm Eskom has introduced scheduled, rolling blackouts to ease pressure on the national grid. And it's hurting businesses like this restaurant in Johannesburg which refrigerate its food. SOUNDBITE (English) NANDOS FOOD OUTLET CRAIG MONAIG SAYING; "Our sales start from ten till one o'clock during lunch, we are surrounded by offices so we have lost about sixteen thousand rands and on our stock we are going to discard most of our stock due to temperature loss". New power plants are in the pipeline. But delays are adding further pressure to the grid. That's despite the government giving permission to raise prices. And injecting 20 billion rand - around 1.8 billion dollars - of cash. Eskom say it's not enough. And it could damage the outlook for the country's growth. Azaar Jammine is chief economist at Econometrix. SOUNDBITE (English) ECONOMETRIC CHIEF ECONOMIST DR AZAAR JAMMINE SAYING; "Without a doubt there are some businesses especially small businesses that loose production that can never be regained, businesses especially in food, restaurants and in butcheries and others who need refrigeration. If we don't invest now we won't have the higher growth rates that we need in the longer term". South Africa is the world's top platinum producer. And a major exporter of coal and gold. Those industries were hit badly by outages during 2008 - and are likely to suffer again. Eskom says the country's power reserves are almost exhausted. And it doesn't see much changing for at least three years.